A lawsuit by a Latino father says that Minnesota knowingly allowed towns and cities to establish policies and zoning boundaries that resulted in segregated schools (“How Do You Get Better Schools? Take the State to Court, More Advocates Say,” The New York Times, Aug. 21). Although it is assumed that state courts are more receptive to such legal action than those at the federal level, that is not so.
In 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Milliken v. Bradley that segregation is allowable as long as it is not the explicit policy of a school district. In the present case, however, Minnesota is charged with knowingly doing so. If lawyers for the plaintiffs can prove that is the case, they will prevail.
Of course, predicting outcomes is always risky. For example, I never expected the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1973 that unequal school funding did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Nor did I expect that a federal judge in Michigan would hold that “access to literacy” was not a fundamental federal right for students in the Detroit school system.
The right to what is called an “adequate” education is guaranteed in almost all state constitutions. But exactly what such an education should look like is the basis for several lawsuits now underway. That’s how lawyers earn their money.
(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)